My second visit to Canada allowed me to see a bit more of Ontario than just Toronto. I had a chance to explore the area around Hamilton - a city nicknamed "the waterfall capital of the world" (I will ignore the other nickname here). It has more than 100 waterfalls and with nearby Niagara Falls it looked like a solid competition to Norway. 


I had to travel with SAS as Icelandair tickets cost more than double (four times more than last year). I took a short flight from Oslo to Stockholm, and then a very tiring 9 hour flight to Toronto. It felt even longer because the entire flight was during the day. It was better on the way back as the flight was overnight (and also about an hour shorter). 

I had about 90 and 120 minutes for transfers in Stockholm which was perfect - I had to go through passport control and another security check, so I would not recommend having less time. I was officially carrying some items to declare in Canada (nuts, seeds, chocolate, tea), but as I had no meat, I was still sent through the "green" line. Masks were required only in Toronto Airport, nowhere else (not even on the flights - as soon as the door closed, we were free to remove them). 


We started our Hamilton exploration by visiting the destroyer ship the Haida, which was the most successful Canadian ship during WW2. It also helped to free Norway from Nazi occupation. I was very impressed with how many confined locations we could climb into through narrow hatches and steep ladders. I can't imagine this in Europe due to safety concerns. Not to mention the inside temperature reached 45° due to scorching sun heating the hull (there was a warning at the entrance though). 
Our next goal was Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) which have 4 main gardens connected through amazing trails (most people miss this, because everybody uses cars for even a few minutes ride). I actually liked the freely accessible parts of the RBG more than the paid areas. We hiked the most remote sections during a separate hike the next day, where we started at Dundas Peak. It officially required a payed registration, but I used my Czech skills and we sneaked in through the back entrance for free (again they didn't assume somebody would come from any other direction than the nearest official parking place).  

We also hiked most of the Bruce Trail in the Hamilton area, which follows the Niagara Escarpment, and saw many of Hamilton's waterfalls. Unfortunately most of them were just mere trickles as I visited at the peak of the summer and it is a very dry period. No competition to Norway what so ever. Although most of Hamilton is situated on flat ground, the Niagara Escarpment divides it with about a 50 meter high cliff, which can be accessed by many staircases. These are frequently used by local athletes for brutal workouts. Climbing it twice was enough for me. 

Hamilton has several interesting parks. My favorite became Gage park because of the amazing nearby ice cream parlor (with salted caramel and toasted coconut!). And I should of course not forget a free Tropical Greenhouse. There are also some other interesting places in Hamilton such as the Cathedral Basilica of Christ the KingDundurn Castle (we have those in every town in Czechia) and the amazing Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. This one is well worth a visit mainly for the very knowledgeable staff who provided a lot of interesting stories and details. There are various options available such as the ability to climb into a cockpit, try flying in a MS Flight Simulator, or to rent a plane (including Avro Lancaster). 

The last location near Hamilton we had the pleasure to see was the Grand River in Caledonia. The nice flat walk around the river reminded me of Pardubice's cycle path, and was very pleasant during the sunset. The nearby ice cream parlor was a sweet addition. 

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is rated as the world's best waterfall. Nevertheless, I managed to miss it last time, so I had to make it right. Especially when I could now compare them with Norway's waterfalls. The comparison would however not be fair, because they are so different. Niagara Falls is not too high, but the amount of water is massive. When we were standing next to the edge, I was just speechless. But the crowds of people and the nearby city (with casinos, hotels and attractions) ruins the experience a bit and it is difficult to enjoy them in peace. So a tie?       


I was mostly looking forward to our apartment, which did not disappoint. I could be posting balcony pictures for a long time. It seemed that no matter the light condition, every time there was something to see. It was especially magical during the night and during sunrises. It was a show I truly enjoyed even while the view from my Gjøvik apartment is a wonder on its own. It is surprising, how quiet the apartment could be thanks to the isolation and the distance from the ground. But I still had trouble upon my return getting used to the absolute silence during the nights again.       

I have already seen most of Toronto last year, so the only new location for me was Toronto Island. It was an amazingly spent day - there are several beaches (even a clothing-optional one), an amusement park for kids, and unbeatable views of the city skyline and several opportunities to eat and drink. 


I can just confirm what I said last year - being a vegan in Canada is well accepted and understood and not a complication at all. Practically all restaurants offer some vegan options (even Tim Hortons, which is everywhere) and there is also a plenty of ice cream options. My new favorite restaurant became Planted - a completely vegan and gluten free restaurant with the best spiced food I have ever eaten. They are definitely not afraid of using too much salt and spices, which makes the food really yummy. I had to try "fish" from eggplant and was really impressed how authentically that dish tasted (once was enough though - their falafel is a much better choice, not to mention their sweets).